Georgetown Heritage Walk/Gurney Road

Penang Travel Blog

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After sleeping for more than 8 hours, I think we were charged enough to explore the old British colonial city of Georgetown. But before going for our day's planned activities, we ate first at the hawker next to the hotel. They serve good chicken rice and Teh with milk. It was the same chicken rice as the one here in Singapore but I guess, eating it in Penang made a lot of difference. For me, it tasted better. Was it my taste bud or was it the fact that I was on vacation where anything as simple as chicken rice would taste better?

After that very good breakfast, we started with our activity. We walked again towards the bus stop where we would take the Free Shuttle to the city.
Our first destination - Fort Cornwallis. It is a fortification much like Intramuros, the old walled city of Manila but smaller and Fort San Pedro of Cebu yet it is slightly bigger. Honestly, there's nothing special for me seeing this place. Don't get me wrong, it is worth seeing it but since I lived both in Manila and Cebu and anything like what I saw there is nothing but the same, the novelty is lost. And for one, Intramuros got more drama since it is where our most beloved Jose Rizal was imprisoned and his last footstep before his execution was traced. I got this bias and there's nothing I can do about it.

Then we continued with our heritage walk, from the Esplanade we went to the City Hall. It is a white colonial building built with freshly painted exterior.
We didn't attempt to go inside. Next to the City Hall is the Town Hall, same as the City Hall, it is another colonial building but it's exterior is yellow orange. The sun was high and it was just too hot when we were doing this. Though it started to get cloudy as we crossed the street towards another colonial build, the St. George Church. This is the oldest Anglican church in South East Asia, and built by convict labor. Again, we didn't dare to go inside as it was really cloudy and we were afraid that it would rain.

And the inevitable rain poured down, good thing we were already in Penang State Museum and had to take shelter there. We paid for the entrance and stayed there for few minutes. The collection inside was not really of my interest. I supposed I have seen better collection in Asian Civilisation Museum here in Singapore.
Since Singapore and Georgetown shared almost the same history and profile, much of the story has already been told to me in Singapore. Few more minutes and the rain has stopped and we continued walking.

We decided to explore as far as the Protestant Cemetery, and in doing so, we passed by other heritage buildings such as Cathedral of the Assumption, Saint Xavier Institution, Leong Fee's Mansion and most important is the Blue Mansion. We arrived there at around 1 PM and the mansion is open to public at 3 PM. So we decided to look for a place to eat lunch. Another block was Hotel Continental, and from their menu, we decided to have another Non-local meal. They were serving pasta meal inclusive of soup, drinks and dessert. It was a good meal for a good price.
For me, it was those random things that surprised me to this trip. There were just too many pleasant things I encountered randomly.

After the lunch, we went to our last point, the Protestant cemetery. And just as any other cemetery, the place is creepy and people with morbid sense of adventure would go there. After we finished exploring the cemetery, we went back to the Blue Mansion for their tour inside the house. The Blue Mansion, also known as Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is an old typical chinese mansion. It was owned by a very rich Chinese merchant whose wealth started with a marriage to a very rich chinese girl from Indonesia. In his lifetime, he had 8 wives and his favorite wife is wife number 7. That's is the only interesting part of the whole 1.5 hours of tour inside the house for me.
No taking of photo is allowed inside the Mansion. The house was actually renovated from decades of neglect. The used to be a proud structure has bowed down to the test of times. The paint of indigo blue came from Jodphur (the blue city of India). Of all the details of the house - fung shui obsessed details, the symmetry, the elevation of the house, the materials used for the furniture and all, my favorite part of the building is the tiles cut into several shapes to create a mural used as decoration for the roof.

The tour was worth it. Besides, the house was used as the location for Oscar's Best Foreign Film - Indochine. Also, I am seeing some show here in Singapore which featured this house as well. The Blue Mansion, despite being grand was not over the top now campy and for me, it was a beautiful place to visit.
By the way, some part of the Mansion has been converted into Bed and Breakfast. The room looks interesting, those who checked in would certainly feel who it was to live during the colonial times in Penang.

We wanted to try the rickshaw ride. And we did, after the tour in the Blue Mansion, we took a rickshaw to bring us to Perenakan Heritage Museum and the eventually to the Jetty. The Perenakan like the Blue Mansion was owned by a very rich and powerful chinese. The thing was, I has developed some sort of resistance to anything Perenakan or Chinese. I just had too much of it in this place. It was okay when we were in the Blue Mansion, but here, it was just too much. We didn't pay much attention to the tour guide, we took photos of the place - I loved the kitchen area actually but that's it, we continued with our rickshaw ride to the Jetty.

The good thing with the rickshaw ride, we were able to see the alleys that are not included on any brochures, seeing old house that are neglected but for me, there was just too much poetry seeing those buildings. There's too much sadness and at the same time, apathy. I just a sucker for this kind of stuffs. Anyway, once on the road, we got to see more temples, chinese or hindu and mosques. And the great part of the ride was to see locals do their normal life.

Then we reached the jetty. This place is consist of wooden houses forming a floating community by the sea. I would say that it is nothing new to me since we have something like this also but what surprises me is, the place is really clean and I would say, the place is decent enough to be called home.
I guess in my reality, this kind of place should be filthy and smelly. This I think is the purpose of travel - which is to unlearn a lot of things.

After the jetty trip, we ask the rickshaw driver to bring us to the bus station. Our next stop would be Gurney Drive.

We took Bus 101 from Komtar and we reach Gurney Plaza after 30 minutes of bus ride and few minutes walk. I expected to try Penang local cruisine in Gurney Drive but once we got there, we decided to eat something safe - McDonalds! :)

I was just too tired by that time, and I just wanted to go home, take a bath and sleep. It was actually what we did. We took an old bus going back to Komtar then another bus ride back to the hotel We decided not to take any cab during this trip and so far, we broke this only once. :)

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photo by: Aurora78